Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Glass Eye!

“SNARRRTTT!!!” (This is what PP’s little sis calls her—combine ‘fart’ and ‘snot’ and you get Snart. Okay, they were 9 when they made this up, so what do you expect? The strange thing is that they're 50 years old and still resort to this nickname. )

“Guess what I found?”

PP is afraid to ask. They’d been rummaging through little sis’s mother-in-law’s ‘Secretary’ Desk to find such treasures as: Letters about the weather from 1887; WW I Medals from great grandfather; several large ‘gold’ molars. So….PP didn’t really wanna know what the latest discovery was, but knew she had no choice.

“I don’t know. What did you find? I hope it’s not another tooth. I can’t handle that.”
“No, it’s not a tooth. Guess again.”
PP sighs, grins, “Honest, I don’t know. What?”
Lil' Sis holds up her cupped hands to PP’s face. Opens her hands to reveal….

“A GLASS EYE, Snart!” Lil’ Sis cries, delighted.
“GROSS!!!! Get it away from me!”
“Don’t you wanna hold it? It feels nice and smooth and cool and….”
”NO! I don’t want to hold it! Yuck! Put it back.”
“Okay, Snart, but you’re missing out.”

And reluctantly, but still giggling, she put it back in its secret hiding place in the top drawer of the desk.

This, PP thought, was the end of the Glass Eye.

But you guessed it, the theme continues.

The next day, PP partakes of an invigorating swim at the Encinitas YMCA. She’s visiting her sis and so gets access to this country club Y. But the pool is chilly. All those real swimmers from the Masters Team want it cold! The better to build up their lean, tan, muscular magazine cover bodies.

PP feels so white and pasty in San Diego. And she is. And so, this also brings back all those insecurities she felt as a teenager growing up in So Cal. Everyone was tan, lean, blond and athletic. Not that PP wasn’t all of these things; it’s just that she was never able to pull off ‘The Look’ with the same sort of swaggering confidence. And these Masters Swimmers—sure many of them were her age now, but they still had that So Cal ‘Look’—PP hates them.

Anyway, after her chilly swim, she heads for the hot tub, thankfully sliding into the warm bubbly water. Two fit 30 something girlfriends are gossiping in the corner. Completely ignoring her. As expected. One middle aged Indian Gent with too high waist swim trunks, nods and smiles at her. PP likes him cause he’s obviously not from the swim team, but she doesn’t want to encourage him, so she just nods and settles into the corner, closing her eyes.

She rests. She warms. It’s delicious!

After several minutes, she opens her eyes to observe a large pasty middle aged man enter the hot tub, gingerly. Maybe he’d been in the lane next to her in the pool now that she thinks of it. But maybe not. In any case, he nods, and smiles crookedly at her. Leaning one side of his face toward her, his left eye focusing on her; his right eye….

It looks up into his forehead. Not focusing on her at all.

PP feels chills up and down her spine in spite of the warm water.

Could it be?

No, what are the chances?

Two glass eyes in one weekend?

But yet…..

Forehead Eye Man settles down on the bench across from her, but not before giving her a final knowing nod.

It is. A GLASS EYE!!!!! Forehead Eye Man’s roving eye is a glass eye!

PP sinks down into the bubbles, trying not to stare, thinking how she wishes her sister were here to verify the glass eye sighting. (pun intended)

But she’s not. And so, it’s just a story. A good one, PP will grant you that. If you believe it.

Yet, somehow, PP’s still not sure she does.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Homage to the Albany Pool

On her little Monday walk thinking about the plot of Trollope in Residence and how a plane crash would most definitely move things along, PP realized she’d been walking right past Albany High for the last 10 months and it struck her. Isn’t that where the Albany Pool is where she took the Lovely I for her swimming therapy when she fell off the horse?

So…yeah. It is, she thought, getting excited, walking across the street and into the big high school arched entrance.

Yet, this didn’t seem right. Fortunately a friendly clean-up guy was sweeping the floor.

“Excuse me?” she asked.
He looked up, grinned.
“But isn’t there a pool around here?”
He laughed, leaning on the handle of his broom.
“There was a pool here. They tore it down.”

“Oh…” They tore it down? How the hell could that be? It’s sacrilege to tear down a pool, esp. one that was key to PP’s pool blog and the Lovely I’s recovery.
“Yeah…it was over there,” he nodded behind him. “You need to go back out and around. That’s where it was. They gonna rebuild it though.”

Nodding, PP started out, “Thanks. I thought it was around here.”
“Oh it was. It just ain’t no more. You ain’t crazy.”
He laughed a big laugh and went back to his sweeping.

Heading out of the building, PP thought how it was good to know that she wasn’t crazy, but as she walked around the basket ball courts, thinking that it looked familiar, she felt disoriented. Yes, this did seem like where she wheeled the Lovely I past the shooting hoop hooligans. But was the pool in this big building?

She tried to see through—no, it wasn’t here. It was just some locked up auditorium or gym--PP knew this cause there was not one whiff of chlorine.

She glanced behind her. A chain link fence surrounded a large rectangular dirt field.

Shit. Could this be where the pool was? Had they filled the pool with dirt?

She walked around it, examining the weeds growing out and a couple of weird pipe thingees poking out of the ground. Were these what was left of the pumping apparatus?

It was just too horrible! A pool filled up with dirt! And esp. such a wonderful pool! PP still remembered all the floating shower cap ladies in their brightly colored caps of purple and yellow and green and orange and the Lovely I being lowered into the pool and then happily walking with the Asian History Guy (PP knows she’s got this detail wrong) —but you know what she means—the pool was ALIVE—and now, it was dead….

It was a nightmare.

Actually, once in awhile PP does have this nightmare where the pool that she swam in in Hacienda Heights is filled with dirt. She goes back to the house, and into the backyard, and the sweet little pool where she’d swam 100’s of laps was filled up and grassed over.

At least in her dream, the pool was covered with a green green lawn.

The desolation of the dirt pool here in Albany was truly stunning.

She stood for a moment at the chain link fence, staring at the dirt.

What? Like if she stared long enough it’d come back to life? That the blue water would appear, the shower cap ladies would be floating, and the Lovely I would be laughing (or crying) as all the pool action happened?

Sighing, she turned away. It was too weird.

Walking away from it, she passed a mom playing tennis with her two daughters. Laughing, flailing, stumbling around the court.

One of the daughters almost fell over reaching for a shot; they all convulsed into giggles.

Yes, there was still life here. And maybe it's not the magic of the Albany Pool, but the pool will always be in PP's memory and on her blog and in Pool Heaven (there must be a pool heaven!)

Goodbye, Albany Pool! We shall miss you!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


It was a small pitiful little murp. Like a kitten that’d been left out in the rain and had been mewing all night long. Its voice nearly gone, but had enough left to make the call into the night.

PP was on the toilet. So she only heard it. But knew right away who it was: Scraping Walker Woman.

“I always have to get dressed on the floor…otherwise I …..”

PP had overheard SWW explaining her reasons for being on the floor to someone who had asked. Or hadn’t. SWW liked to talk. PP could see why. What with her lack of mobility. She probably didn’t get out except to the Y here at Hilltopia and this took her all day.

So now, with the plaintive ‘murp’, PP flushed the toilet and headed in SWW's direction. And yes, there she was, on the floor, balancing precariously on one naked hip, eyes watery with tears just like Ellie Thompson in Katherine Anne Porter’s “Noon Wine.”

“Are you okay?” PP didn’t usually like to ask. Once she’d offered to pick up the shampoo bottle that SWW had been kicking along the floor and had been thoroughly rebuked. “No, no, leave it. I can do it.”

And so now, asking her if she were okay seemed a risk.
But the murp hung in the air.
And now the tears and the obvious distress.

“Do you need some help?” PP asked.
“Oh yes!” Relief flooding over her. “If you wouldn’t mind.” She pointed at her foot and then at the scrunched up nylon gray sock on the floor. “Could you help me put my sock on?” Her tears started to run down her face. PP almost started to cry to. Damn. What would it be like to not even be able to put your own socks on? Hell, PP complained all the time about this or that. But this?

“Of course,” PP knelt down and took the sock from her.
“I hope it won’t make you sick?” SWW cringed in pain? Shame? Little did she know that PP was so easily squeamish. PP tried not to look too hard at the poor gnarled toes all scrunched on top of each other the toenail ingrown into the big toe.

PP stopped looking and began to ease the sock on. “Is this hurting you?” she asked.
“Oh, no. Oh thank you!” as PP continued to work the sock over her curled, lifeless foot. “Can you manage it now?”

“Oh yes! Thank you so much! You are so kind. And you didn’t lecture me. My husband he tells me that I should use the walker all the time and I want to use a cane but then I fell, see? She pointed to a large purple bruise on her raised hip. Did she just do this? Is this why she needed help?

PP didn't want to ask, so she just smiled, nodded, “You’re welcome. I’m glad I was here to help.”
“Yes, and you didn’t lecture me,” she repeated.
Puzzled, PP laughed, “I’m not usually the lecturing type this late in the day.”
They both giggled as PP wondered what they hell would anyone lecture her about? Falling down? Asking for help? Crying?


It was all too much and so PP left her, but not before asking again if she could manage. “Oh yes, I’m fine now. Thank you so much!” SSW smiled through the tears, her bluey eyes wet.

Sighing, PP went to shower for the pool. She really needed a swim now.

But...was that another 'murrrp' echoing from the locker room? she wondered as she turned off the shower.

No, couldn't be as PP heard, "I had to go down to the DMV today. That's why I'm here so much later than usual. My husband, he says....."

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


"Thank God for the YMCA and the Internet!"

All the women in Hilltopia nod (or at least as far as PP can tell in the dark) as if this proclamation makes perfect sense. And maybe it does. PP can see why one would thank God (if one were so inclined) for the YMCA. She is thankful (though not necessarily to a Higher Power) every time she comes to the Y. Well, except for the times when the pool is closed. Or crowded. Or cold.

But this is beside the point. She is thankful for the Y.

But the Internet? Maybe. Maybe not. She thinks that the Internet is a huge ‘time suck’ as one of her students is fond of saying. In point of fact, PP has just spent the last 55 minutes looking for pictures of ‘cute….animals'or 'beautiful beaches',or 'baby cows' (you get the idea) on Google images so she can change her desktop image.

Almost an entire hour! Wasted! (Well, she did finally find a super cute pic of a gang of baby penguins. Here it is for your gushing approval.)

So the Internet is a time suck. And it’s also so goddamn frustrating. For example, this morning she was trying to find out what ‘points’ means when buying a piece of property, but an ad for ‘If you haven’t had a ticket in 3 years, you’re paying too much for car insurance’ kept popping up and blocking her purpose.

She gave up. It seemed that points and car insurance had her beat.

The Internet. She is not thankful for it most of the time. Unless it’s for email to her friends and family. Or Facebook silliness.

Yet even if she were thankful for the Internet and the YMCA, PP wonders why the two are thrown together with such cavalier abandon here in Hilltopia?

It’s a mystery. The women just say things. Non sequiturs fly willy nilly through the steamy air. Immediately after the declaration of being thankful for the Y and the Internet, another woman proclaims how “For Africa Women, not having child. It is death.”

Okay, well, for PP having a child woulda been death.

But she didn’t offer this as a follow-up conversation piece. Just like she couldn’t really comment too much on Sweet Roly-Poly’s long harangue about losing 10 lbs in one month other than to say that sounded like a lot and then nodding when Death For Africa Woman said that it was ‘The Nature’ for men to lose more weight without even working out or dieting.

PP does like this use of the definite article. The Nature. It’s so very apt in this context. Don’t you agree?

So…..back to being thankful. PP is. Not in general mind you, but in specific. Like at the moment when she’s in Hilltopia after a long hard trying swim, exhausted and heaterized letting the non sequiturs and laughter wash over her.

It’s so much better than the Internet. Or children. Or diets. Something PP doesn't have to worry about; which to judge with how much time/energy/emotion most middle-aged women spend on dieting, is something to be very very very Thankful for!

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